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Will Limbrel Help Relieve Arthritis?

Updated on November 21, 2008

A New Medical Food with Few Side Effects Holds Promise

A new "medical food" recently hit the market as a treatment for osteoarthritis. It's Limbrel, manufactured by Primus Pharmaceuticals, and it allegedly offers pain relief in a different and safer way than standard arthritis drugs.

"Medical foods" like Limbrel are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and are available only by prescription. They differ from standard drugs in that they are made up of ingredients "generally recognized as safe" according to FDA terminology. Because of this, they don't have to go through the long process of testing and approval required of other prescriptions. The makers of medical foods do have to show that they are an effective treatment for a specific condition.

So just what type of foods ingredients are in Limbrel? According to the maker, Limbrel contains highly concentrated and refined natural flavonoids similar to those found in green tea, cocoa, cauliflower, kale, red wine, soy and peanuts. It would be impossible to simply eat enough of the foods containing the beneficial flavonoids to get the concentration found in Limbrel. The patented blend of flavonoids that goes into Limbrel is called flavocoxid. Root and bark extracts are the source of these natural compounds.

Dr. Jonathan Cluett, About.com's orthopedics guide states, "The flavonoid extracts found in Limbrel appear to have anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting enzymes that cause inflammation. These enzymes, called COX (cyclooxygenase) and LOX (lipooxygenase) create molecules that cause inflammation and pain."1 Limbrel affects the metabolic processes that cause arthritic damage.

If Limbrel does indeed offer the hoped-for relief from arthritis, it would be a welcome new weapon. Many other prescriptions and over the counter medicines recommended for arthritis are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs such as asprin, Motrin, and Aleve work by blocking 2 forms of the COX enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2. COX-2 is produced as a result of inflammation, but COX-1 works to protect the stomach from damage from strong digestive fluids. Blocking both enzymes eased arthritis symptoms, but caused nausea and even ulcers as a side effect.

Eventually drug companies came out with what was seen as a refinement, COX-2 inhibitors, which functioned by blocking just one of the enzymes, and was touted as free of some of the undesirable digestive problems. After several years of use, the COX-2 inhibitors didn't live up to expectations. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons website, "...some studies have not shown any difference between the incidence of gastrointestinal side effects from traditional NSAIDs and COX-2 inhibitors." 2

Vioxx and Bextra were two of the COX-2 inhibitors, but both eventually were taken off the market by their manufacturers due to worries about cardiovascular complications. Limbrel offers arthritis relief without major side effects. A few patients have reported rash and itching or slight indigestion after taking it.

Limbrel is dispensed in 250 mg capsules and is taken twice a day about an hour before or after a meal for best absorption. The Walgreen's Pharmacy site lists a 30 day supply of 60 tablets at $105.99. Because this is a fairly new medical food, insurance coverage is problematic.

1 http://orthopedics.about.com/od/paintreatment/p/limbrel.htm

2 http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/fact/thr_report.cfm?Thread_ID=398&topcategory

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    • profile image

      Robert 

      6 years ago

      I took Limbrel for over two years and my results were so so. Went back to Celebrex for my back pain. Sorry, this idea may work with a few, but it still needs more observation.

    • profile image

      Faye Threadgill 

      7 years ago

      it has helped my pain and i just started it last week but i can't pay 115.00

    • profile image

      Duane 

      7 years ago

      I have been taking Limbrel for the past year. It has been very effective for my knee osteoarthritus. Before Limbrel, I was taking Mobic and before that Celebrex. I have had no side effects from taking Limbrel at all. My insurance covers some of the prescription costs. I prefer taking Limbrel having some out of pocket cost than having to depend upon an NSAID type drug

    • profile image

      Valerie White 

      8 years ago

      I have been taking Limbrel for 2 years for osteoarthritis. It has worked great without any side effects. Other non steroidal anti inflammatories caused alot of stomach distress and blurred vision.

    • profile image

      sandy 

      8 years ago

      i have used Limbrel for 8-9 months without any noticeable improvement in my knee osteoarthritis. i am an RN and have received all of my Limbrel samples without cost through my physician. However, i did develop reflux of unknown origin, enduring an esophagoscopy, until it was realized the source of the problem was the use of Limbrel. It most certainly can cause GI side effects. thankfully, i didnt spend almost $1000 out of pocket to find out it was ineffective for arthritis and induced a gastric problem. use your money wisely. ps it is NOT indicated for RA.

    • profile image

      tbaliotis 

      9 years ago

      does limbrel help with rheumetiod arthritis ?

    • roseflr profile imageAUTHOR

      roseflr 

      10 years ago from PITTSBURGH

      Evelyn, just go to either one of the links at the end of my article or Google "Limbrel" to find more information. Just be sure not to confuse it with Embrel which is a different drug for rheumatoid arthritis. Or ask your doctor.

    • profile image

      Evelyn Roskob 

      10 years ago

      I need to know more on the prescritption drug Limbrel (flavocoxid) for arthritis . I have osteoarthritis, and can't get any relief from pain & stiffness.

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